Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Achtung ... They're Back! Germans Fly over London, but It's All in Aid of Tourism

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Achtung ... They're Back! Germans Fly over London, but It's All in Aid of Tourism

Article excerpt


THE Battle of Britain (2002 version) started at exactly nine minutes past eleven this morning.

As invasion fleets go it was a little on the modest side - just a lone wartime Junkers flying over London. And the Germans on board were, from all appearances, as civilised and peaceful a bunch as one could hope to meet.

But as the plane flew over the City, one could not help detecting a certain glee in the voice of one of the crew as he announced: "Look, there is St Paul's right underneath."

Listen, old boy, you had your chance last time. Enough is enough.

Today's flight by a 1936 Ju 52 over London was the first of a series of pleasure flights by German airline Lufthansa: pound sterling89 for half an hour in a historic aircraft and a guided tour of all the bits the Luftwaffe missed (or, as Lufthansa preferred to phrase it, " nostalgia and charm and a unique bird's eye view of London.") Time was when the sight of a Ju 52 over London would have been cause for extreme concern. It was not much of a threat, as such, during the war - originally designed as a passenger airliner and cargo plane, it had a brief and rather ignominious career as a bomber during the Spanish Civil War - but it was used to ferry troops as well as the Nazi top brass. Its arrival over London would have meant we had lost the Battle of Britain on penalties.

As David Keen, education officer at the RAF museum at Hendon, said: "There were some ready to bring troops over."

German troops having other things on their minds these days, today's flight out of London City Airport was instead filled with aviation experts, enthusiasts, Lufthansa representatives and, just to ensure no one did anything they might regret, the Evening Standard.

The Ju 52 had no protection against fighters, and as Mr Keen said: "If the Luftwaffe had flown a Ju 52 over Buckingham Palace in the war all the Hurricanes would have been delighted."

Still, the Lufthansa people today were terribly keen to point out what a peaceful plane it was. For a start, said Lufthansa's European vice president Ulrich Wachter, this plane - affectionately nicknamed Auntie Ju - never even saw action: it spent the war years in the employ of a Norwegian airline before ending its working life in Ecuador. …

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